Gyor, U16: Surprises, fun and delight

by Mihail Marin
12/20/2014 – Chess talents from all over the world gather at the U-16 World Youth Chess Olympiad in Gyor, Hungary. In the first rounds Russia and India dominated the event but in the seventh round Russia suffered a surprising upset and lost to the Iranian team. After eight rounds India and Iran share the lead with 14 from 16 possible points. One point behind Russia is third.

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While following from close the fight between the young talents in Gyor, I could not help permanently associating it with the historic rivalry between the World's main chess powers. I must have been captured by the idea of continuity promoted by this Olympiad's slogan The old game for the new generations but how else could it have been since everything surrounding the tournament seems to be emanating this elevating principle?

Before reporting about the first half of the Youth under 16 Olympiad in Gyor, I find it useful to have a draft overview of the World chess map.

After Kasparov's retirement in 2005, Russia has gradually lost its former domination in team competitions. In the same period, the Chinese players have become stronger year by year, culminating with their win in the Tromso 2014 Olympiad, an event in which Russia did not even get close to the gold medals. Moreover, and much under the influence of Anand's repeated World champion titles, India has become another explosively growing chess power.

Chess tradition is kept alive in most of the countries from the former Soviet Union. Even without mentioning the strong Olympic gold medallists Armenia or Ukraine, teams from the smaller countries are able to deliver big surprises.

How did this situation reflect in the youth Olympiad so far?

The top-seeded team, India, managed to keep a perfect score during the first four rounds.

The young Indian players looking with hope into the future.

But right before the free day India lost to Russia, a team which seems determined to restore their country's former chess glory.

The first board game ended in a draw shortly before the time control.
In the foreground - the game Karthikeian - Goryachkina. Russia's wins establishing
the final 3-1 score were obtained on the last two boards.

On their way to the top match and with the same score Russia defeated the squad of another chess power, China, a surprisingly modestly-seeded team, only 18th! But at this age rating is deceptive, especially if the players mainly participate in national events without contact to foreign opponents. This situation is known from the golden years of Soviet chess when no-one was surprised if a master candidate put up tough resistance or even defeated a strong Western player.

This time Russians won the games on the first three boards, but lost on the last board.

After five rounds, Russia entered the free day in sole lead with 10 points. But in round 7 they suffered a upset, losing 1,5-2,5 against the Iranian team - a big surprise. After eight rounds Iran now shares the lead with India: both teams won seven matches while losing one.

Standings after eight rounds

Rk. SNo   Team   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 6
Iran 7 0 1 14 25.0 145.5
2 1
India 7 0 1 14 21.0 157.5
3 3
Russia 6 1 1 13 21.5 161.5
4 8
Romania 6 0 2 12 19.5 157.5
5 11
Turkey 5 1 2 11 21.0 134.0
6 4
Ukraine 5 1 2 11 20.5 143.0
7 2
Germany 5 1 2 11 20.5 142.5
8 13
Poland 1 5 1 2 11 20.0 138.0
9 9
Greece 5 0 3 10 21.5 123.0
10 5
Hungary 1 4 2 2 10 20.5 144.0
11 17
Slovakia 1 5 0 3 10 20.5 136.0
12 10
Hungary 2 5 0 3 10 20.0 141.0
13 7
Canada 1 3 4 1 10 20.0 139.0
14 22
Israel 4 2 2 10 18.0 141.0
15 26
Poland 2 5 0 3 10 17.5 133.0
16 12
Serbia 5 0 3 10 15.5 138.0
17 18
China 4 1 3 9 19.5 135.0
18 19
Croatia 4 1 3 9 18.5 135.0
19 14
Belarus 3 3 2 9 18.5 129.5
20 35
Mongolia 4 1 3 9 17.5 135.0


As another surprise of this Olympiad I would mention Uzbekistan's team, seeded 21st, which remained undefeated during the first four rounds despite very strong opposition.

Bakhora Abdusattorova is very proud of her little brother, Nodirbek Abdusattorov,
playing next to her. Two years ago he won the under 8 World Championship

More than success and results, chess should be fun and delight. This is the reason why the organizing committee decided to institute a daily brilliancy award, to be handed in before the start of the next round.

The small jury consists of WGM Anna Rudolf and GM Mihail Marin. In this picture they are just about to announce the winner of the previous round

The young participants gave the jury a "hard time" by playing many good games. On two occasions we found it too painful to eliminate one candidate so the decision was taken to award two prizes on the same day!

One of the fifth round brilliancy awards goes to Maria Vasova of Bulgaria:


Jack Puccini of Australia has just received his round three brilliancy prize
and now it is the turn of Sehyun Wong of Korea. On the left - the chief arbiter Werner Stubenvoll

Award winners were not the only players invited on the stage:

Before the fourth round all players celebrating their birthdays
during the Olympiad received... hm, quite appetising birthday cakes!
It's good to be a kid!

But the most touching revelation of the Olympiad is that no matter how they dress up, in uniforms...

...or in strict accordance to the dressing code...

... or wearing carnival like stuff...

... whether they have beautiful eyes...

...or just great hair style...

...they are all children after all!

And we, grown-ups, should be proud of them and feel happy to belong to the same family!

The hosts are permanently hunting young talents for interviewing. In this picture
they seem to have put an eye on their next "victim" already: Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia.

And, oh, how much I would wish to be able looking at chess again with a child's eyes!

Photos: Renata Horvath and Anita Janosek - courtesy of the official website


Here is the list of the sometimes subjective but basically enthusiastic video diaries from the first five rounds:

First round diary

Second round diary

Third round diary

Fourth round diary

Fifth round diary


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

GM Mihail Marin, born in 1965, has several times been Romanian champion, played in 12 Olympiads (earning an individual bronze medal in 1988) and first made the leap over the Elo barrier of 2600 in 2001. Marin possesses a rare gift for a grandmaster — he is able to explain in readily comprehensible terms the ideas behind moves, variations and positions. This ability is there for all to admire in his contributions to ChessBase Magazine.


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